IBM FileNet Review

A good space to manage data, keep track of it, and organize it

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for collaboration of data files through CCM with IBM Connections. It provides an information sharing space and ability to create folders, thus managing the data. We are a worldwide company with offices all over, and there is a community room setup leveraging CCM with FileNet as the back-end. Therefore, all these users upload their files and collaborate on them in this space.

Now, it is performing pretty well, since I have upgraded to the 5.5 version. Historically, we have had a lot of problems with it. 

How has it helped my organization?

IBM FileNet has improved our organization with its single collaboration space.

What is most valuable?

  • The ability to manage the content well. 
  • To create folders (unknown: how much is on the FileNet back-end versus CCM front-end).
  • The ability to tag data, as it seems to be indexed well. It is a good space to manage data, keep track of it, and organize it.

What needs improvement?

  • A little better control into the ACLs of FileNet and databases. 
  • A better administration tool. At the moment, we are using the ACE tool, which is a web-based administration tool whenever we have to deal with the FileNet back-end directly. It is kludgy and slow. They used to have a rich client tool that performed much better, but they discontinued it. I would love to see that tool come back in order be able to do more effective, efficient administration of FileNet on the back-end.  
  • It needs better collaboration between the IBM teams on the FileNet and CCM sides.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Now, they are pretty good.

In previous versions of Connections 3.0, 4.5, and 5.0, I had a lot of stability issues. It gets a little muddy, because when I would open PMRs, sometimes they would be on the connections interface on front and sometimes they would be on the back. One of my challenges seemed to be that there seemed to be a lot of disconnect between the two teams. It is empirical evidence, but it seems to me  that the Connections developers leveraged the FileNet capabilities and the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. There seemed to be a lot of disconnect between the two teams. I would bounce back and forth between the two teams for weeks or months just trying to get support on performance and stability issues. With the most recent upgrade that we did a year ago, these issues pretty much stopped. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is so far good. We have great adoption with the tool. For the users that we are supporting to date, it seems to be handling the load and performing well. 

How are customer service and technical support?

My experience with the technical support is mediocre. Often times, I would open a ticket and the technical support would label it as a FileNet issue, then send it to the FileNet team. The FileNet team would receive it and declare it a Connections issues, thus creating a back-and-forth between teams until I insist on getting both teams on the phone and fight it out. I am the customer in this situation. I just want the issues fixed and resolved.

It has gotten better. However, I do not have many issues with the system now.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I do not know about previous solutions, but the business decided that it wanted CCM, which leverages FileNet. Therefore, I installed, configured, and built the infrastructure.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

The Connections teams, as far as the FileNet tool, were able to integrate it with CCM. They made it easy to set up. At the time you install Connections, you point to the FileNet installers and it does all the work for you. There are a few manual steps, but all of that is pretty well documented. It is a lengthy process and straightforward, but it will take a lot longer than five minutes. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

None that I am aware of.

What other advice do I have?

Do your homework. Test it thoroughly (all the standard stuff). Do load testing to make sure it is a stable platform. Look at the life-cycle of the product.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: support. Not just technical support when you have a problem, but how long before you are discontinuing a product. Right now, I am dealing with Connections over an issue with Java going out of date and they are not supporting it very well. Their solution is to force us to upgrade. 

Look at the support aspects of the product from life-cycle of the product to technical support. Obviously, stability of the product as a whole is important. I do not want to be opening a lot of tickets.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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